Cliff Bleszinski Really Isn’t A Fan Of Project Scorpio

Cliff Bleszinski Really Isn’t A Fan Of Project Scorpio
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Cliff Bleszinski isn’t a man to mince words. At E3 2016, we asked him what he thought of Microsoft’s new console strategy; specifically relating to the Scorpio and Xbox One S. He proceeded to talk a blue streak — with emphasis on “blue”…

Cliff Bleszinski was at E3 to promote his upcoming multiplayer FPS for PC, LawBreakers. (You can read his take on Lawbreakers cosplay here.) During our interview, Cliff discussed Microsoft’s bold new Xbox gamble.

For those who missed the memo, Microsoft announced not one, but two new consoles during its press briefing: the miniature Xbox One S and the enthusiast-level Project Scorpio. Both consoles will be sold alongside the existing Xbox One and they will all play the same games thanks to backward-and-forward compatibility.

As the former design director for Epic Games and the driving force behind Gears Of War 1, 2 and 3, Bleszinski has been heavily ingrained in all things Xbox for a huge chunk of his career. It’s therefore unsurprising that he has pretty strong opinions on the platform. Here are the key points he raised in our discussion:

On the multiple console strategy: “Is Microsoft going full Sega 32x and Mega CD right now? I think it’s weird. The way the branding’s going, it feels like the way Mercedes name their cars in the United States, y’know; the S class! The SOK! The SK! Which fucking one is this? Consumers only have enough time and attention for that. It’s like dude, are you trying to turn the Xbox into a PC? What’s going on right now?”

On Scorpio: “I think it feels like an apology move for them for not making the console as powerful as it should have been in favour of making sure the Kinect was boxed in with it. So now they have to play catch-up. In a way, you can trace this all the way back to their well-intended E3 from a few years ago — where they were trying to go fully digital, etcetera, etectera, and the internet backlash made them back pedal.”

On being “VR ready”: “The thing about setting up VR is that it’s a bit of a pain in the butt. I’m from the generation where your parents got the VCR, plugged it in and the clock was blinking twelve forever. Getting any home electronics installed shouldn’t be a lot of work. So it’s another one of those things that is almost making it like a PC, or going full circle.”

On Scorpion-enhanced games: “When you do that, you genuinely tend to see games that don’t fully shine on the high end. Like we saw with this past console generation [publishers] were hedging their bets with a chicken-and-the-egg thing. They were putting the games on PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One and basically you get higher resolution textures but it’s still a masked texture instead of being dynamically generated. So they’re kind of hobbling themselves in regards to that kind of scalability. It’s trying to have your cake and eat it too.”

On potential effects on multiplayer: “If you make a game and it’s on the cheaper console and it’s 30 frame per second and 60 frames on the other console, that could affect the performance in a twitch shooter, for example. It’s the same thing with Cross Play for action games which I don’t understand the desire for. I can understand with co-op games but if you have a shooter and one player has a controller and another player has a keyboard and mouse and the controller person is at 30 (fps) and the mouse-and-keyboard person is at 60, most of the time the keyboard person is going to completely dominate. So good luck with your match making.”

On keeping it real: “Look, I have a lot of friends over there so I wouldn’t criticise them unless I was pretty positive about it…If Phil Spencer was here right now I’d tell him he back peddled to his face. And he’d say “you’re a dick, but you’re right!”

We reached out to Microsoft for comment and were told that the announcement of Project Scorpio was mainly intended to engage the developer community and they’ll have more to share soon. For a more detailed analysis of Microsoft’s bold new Xbox strategy, check out our interview with Microsoft Studios’s head of publishing Shannon Loftis.


  • Well he’s not holding back, but he doesn’t say anything without justification. I’m skeptical about Scorpio, it could be amazing, it could keep Microsoft’s feet stuck in the mud.

    I definitely agree with Cliff though regarding making games work across multiple platforms. Part of the beauty of the Xbone and PS4 is that they’re almost identical in architecture so developers can make the best game they can without having to worry too much about performance on different systems. With Scorpio and the Neo though, now will we see scaled games just with shinier graphics on the newer systems? It’s when there’s Scorpio and Neo exclusive games though that won’t work on the Xbone and PS4 that the ball will’ve been dropped and the consumers will lose out.

    They’re likening it to upgrading a PC, but unless you’re a hardcore gamer you’re not upgrading anything in your PC for several years at a time, and even when you are, it’s not $600 worth. Those upgrades happen (in my experience anyway) roughly once a console generation as it is

    On another note, Lawbreakers is looking pretty damned good

    • Surprisingly Sony and Nintendo is doing the same thing or similar difference is Microsoft putting most they games on Windows But I’m sure Sony won’t get the same hate

  • So 30fps on one machine and 60fps on another, crappy textures vs great textures – so just like the current PC market which no-one has an issue with?
    Not everyone is running a GTX 980ti or better you know…

    • Yes, but people go to consoles to not have to worry about this shit, everyone is on a level playing field, same performance, same control method

      • Yeah but that’s the point. They don’t have to worry about it. As long as the green box plays the green discs – they’re all good. The more expensive green box plays the same discs but better – just like a dishwasher, New3DS or any other piece of consumer electronics going back to the gramophone – and probably since they were buying horses.

        • I’m not sure that the n3DS actually plays 3DS games any better. Loads a little faster, but that’s about it.

          • I’ve had friends on old 3DS complain a little about framerate drops in games like Monster Hunter 4 where I never saw anything like it on the new 3DS.

          • Can’t say I recall hitting any of that on my XL, but it was a fair while back. Though it’s still not so much enhancing the game, so much as just not letting it degrade 😛

      • Yes but as he said, no one on PC cares, its not like they are just grit and bare it.. its honestly not a problem. I remember back in the day, you’d always have the dicks throwing smoke grenades in CS to lag out anyone on a geforce 2, but since then, I haven’t ever had it be an issue. you just turn your settings down and you get performance just as good the person on the high end beast. The fact that their grass texture is higher res doesn’t give them a competitive advantage. In fact, competitive advantage has usually come from lowering settings rather than raising them (lens flare and bloom isn’t advantageous.. ).

      • Control method will still be unchanged – you still have the advantage of not stuffing around with drivers etc as you are on a console and I don’t care if you get more fps then me – its multiplayer not the Olympics… MP isn’t the primary way everyone plays so this puts consoles on par with a PC Video Card refresh cycle.
        I would’ve thought PC people would love it – Can’t complain that consoles are holding their ninja PC’s back presumably…

      • No one worries about that shit on PC.
        I have never once even thought about the fact that some people might be playing at a lower or higher framerate against me

  • Why don’t journalists still not know the difference between backwards and backward? “Backwards” with an s is an adverb so you can’t use it together with a noun like “compatibility”. You can use it with a verb like “compatible” though.

    If you look at all the Microsoft stuff (press releases, websites), they always use “backward compatibility” without the s. Please learn from their grammar.

      • Seven hours sleep over five days! I hope your employer supplies you with strong stimulants, like soldiers get on long sorties! I don’t think my worst ( best?) ever bender was that punishing.
        And for your trouble you’re greeted with inane comments focusing on grammar rather than the article( which shouldn’t even exist as something that can actually be read if my lost weekends are any sort of indication ) itself?
        It’s a mad world!

    • That’s not really how language works. Language is defined by common use, and tons of people say “backwards compatibility”, therefore it is correct. Second, grammar rules are regularly broken in English to make things easier to pronounce, ie we say “an xbox”.

      Edit: To prove my point “backwards compatibility” has more results on Google than “backward compatibility”.

      • “an xbox” isnt wrong. its based on the *sound* the word starts with, not the letter. an eks box.

      • Furthermore, while you are right, it doesn’t mean its to be encouraged. English is already insanely difficult to learn, and its entirely because of all the broken rules (and the fact that these rules are a mishmash of different languages, because the English loved being conquered) . As an example, my pet hate, people who pronounce the ‘t’ in ‘often’ So many do it now that even the oxford dictionary says its now acceptable, but try explaining to someone learning English why we pronounce the ‘t’ in ‘often’ but not in ‘soften’, ‘fasten’ or ‘listen’.

        Just because lots of people do it, doesn’t mean its good. There are lots of morbidly obese people. having said that, I’m no grammar nazi, mainly cause i’m worse than most.

        • I hear what you’re saying, but you’re pretty much stuck in “old man yells at cloud” territory; language is going to change whether we like it or not.

        • Long winded argument about how correct English should be encouraged. Then finishes post using “cause” in place of because. LOL

          Now I am off to find some Cool hWhip to go with my pie.

      • I wonder where that tipping point is. If one person uses a word incorrectly, they are incorrect. If another person copies them, they are both incorrect. Then before you know it everyone is using “literally” to mean “figuratively” and suddenly that definition has made it into the dictionary?

        • I guess I’d define the tipping point as “so long as the majority of participants in the discourse understand it”. So if you have 2 friends using their own slang, that’s correct in their own discourse, and it kind of just cascades through overlapping discourses until it gets to mainstream usage. Online slang propagating through forum threads is a great example of it.

    • I would say Wii U has great compatibility with last gen games, whereas the XBOX really does have backwards compatibility…

      • Aren’t there a bunch of Xbox games that don’t work, or you need to download patches for them to run?

    • It’s always odd to me when people go on grammar diatribes while simultaneously showing their own lack of knowledge about grammar. For instance, “compatible” is an adjective not a verb. Secondly, double negatives are to be avoided. One should not say “don’t still not know” because doing so is erroneous and, in your case, hypocritical. Not to mention the plethora of misplaced modifiers, your grammar sucks, too.

  • Why is MS getting a beat up over this when Sony announced Neo (and rumored) long before MS announced Scorpio. While I agree with him should also point finger at Sony too.

    • He probably doesn’t have as much info about it but I agree, both are bad moves for the same reason, and really are just ways of trying to get more money from their supporters.

    • Mainly because MS are actually talking about theirs at the moment. I’d expect Sony to get something similar once they start talking about Neo. But right now they’re keeping it in the background while they push PSVR so it’s the MS version getting all the attention. Similar issues apply to both, though.

    • I’m not across Sony, but will they also have a fat and a slim running on side neo? I think the three option issue is half the problem. Very confusing for those not up to speed on their tech.

  • And why would anyone pay the ridiculous price for a Scorpio when you could buy a superior gaming PC for less that will also play many XBOX games?

    • Have they actually announced a price yet?

      But yeah, their cross-platform compatibility thing does seem to detract from the need for the console in the first place.

    • For me it’s simple. I don’t want a high powered PC in my life. It has nowhere to fit in my current space, and if I buy a PC for gaming I’d be encouraged by myself to spend large amounts of money on graphics cards, processors, and high end displays. That’s just how I operate. I want the best of the platform I am buying into. With PC that means a very expensive setup.

      I acknowledge that with Scorpio vs. Xbox One that’s still re-buy a system/upgrading components. But Xbox is still a single box. I buy it, take it home, switch it on. I’m not physically changing over parts. Upgrading a console every 3 years suits me fine. I already do that with my phone.

      tl;dr Scorpio is still simplistic in nature. I’m happy to pay for a better system every now and then but I don’t really have the need or want for a gaming PC. I’d spend too much money on it. 😛

      • God yes, I feel the same exact same way about this. I just rather have a single box to play games without having to worry about other stuff.

  • The way I see it, Xbox one was released in 2013, and the one S will be coming out this year, followed by a Project Scorpio release in end of 2017 — so to me the xbox one S is a midlife refresh, as is standard among consoles, and project scorpio is actually just the next generation of console. They shouldn’t have grouped it in as the top end of a series of xbox ones, because it’s coming out enough years after to be nex gen. Not the usual 8, but I think we are entering a realm of shortened cycles amongst consoles.

  • Honestly don’t give a shit about what this guy thinks, gears of war is by far one of the worst franchises of all time, can’t wait until it’s finally dead.

  • Bleszinski is a self interested self promoting loud mouth who is frankly obnoxious at the best of times and despite what he may think he is in no way god’s gift to gaming. Lawbreakers will likely eat a bag of dicks (specifically, Overwatch dicks) so rather than trashing Xbox, etc perhaps he should stick with trying to promote his own game lest it becomes the next Battleborn.

    • Yeah. It’s actually frustrating to seem him have his debut back into the world of gaming after almost a decade just to hear him going around trashing on everybody. He used to be a lot more likeable. Still opinionated, but mostly about his own passions. Now he just says weird, erroneous things and its heartbreaking.

  • Cliff Bleszinski just comes off as a big ass crybaby snarf that guy i dont care what he wants or needs

  • Lock the fps (actually… it might be the opposite… pc gamers might have lower fps depending on their system), enable keyboard&mouse on xb1, and Provide options suck as,
    * only keyboard&mouse
    * only gamepad
    * no limitions

    If keyboard&mouse has an obvious advantage in this game mode, gamepad user gains more points / rewards once beating a keyboard&mouse player. (You bet those gamepad masters would want to show off / streaming)

    Not a bad solutions I think.

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